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Lerk

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Lerk last won the day on January 11 2020

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About Lerk

  • Birthday 08/18/1959

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  • Website URL
    https://www.ex-christian.net/blogs/blog/208-be-ready-always-to-give-an-answer/

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Houston, Texas
  • Interests
    science, energy
  • More About Me
    I am a computer programmer, married over 35 years, with two grown children. My wife's father was a minister, and our younger son is a minister. My older son, fortunately, discovered the truth awhile back. The real truth, not the "capital 'T' Truth".

    Still attending church weekly. I was actually outed once, but seeing how badly that was going to go I jumped back into the closet. That has turned out to be pretty comfortable because people don't expect anything from me now, religiously speaking.

    I've explained to my wife how I came to understand that it was all mythology, but she really doesn't want to believe it, and I still say a prayer with her at dinner! But we're starting to skip that more often.

    In some ways, Christianity has kept my life and my family stable, and I appreciate the regular moral training about being a responsible citizen and family member, and about caring for others. I don't know that, without the "you have to be there every week" attitude, I would ever have accepted that training and my life may not be as good as it is. Then again, my life could easily have been better, and churches certainly don't have a monopoly on morality. (In fact, sometimes they're just downright immoral.)

    On the other hand, I wish I had all of those Sundays back to spend with my family doing things that would have kept us closer. I can't really blame religion for a lack of recreation in my life, as many 3-time-a-week Christians do, in fact, spend more time in recreation with their families than I did. My problem may just be the fact that I was just too "responsible", and I don't know whether religion did that, or if I was just born that way. (I know I have always tried to do what was expected of me, even as a child, so it may just be my neurological makeup.)

    Regardless, I wish I had the Sundays back, and that all of that money given to the church could have been used for enjoying life with my family.

    Regarding how I came to realize that Jehovah is a myth like all other gods, it was in church, and I was 52 years old, when the preacher read a couple of verses of Genesis 3. Having turned there I read the entire chapter and realized, for the first time, that there was no Satan in the chapter. It was an ordinary snake! I knew I didn't believe it as written, and that neither did anyone else present. We had, all of our lives, believed that Satan had used the serpent, yet the Bible said nothing of the kind. There's not a single person in that church, not a single person I know, who believes Genesis chapter 3, yet nearly everyone says it is true.

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  1. I've said a few times (online, anyway) that I don't think it's impossible that there are such things as gods, but I'm absolutely sure that the one(s) the Bible talks about are simply the product of speculation about what I god would be like if there were such things as gods. Too many holes and inconsistencies in the descriptions for it to be anything other than a whole lot of different people's imaginations. And although I don't know much about other religions, I suspect they're all speculation, too. Nobody who ever lived was talked to by a being that wasn't human.
  2. Wow! That is me, exactly! When I got married (40 years ago tomorrow) it was because it seemed like the next logical step. Never thought about future kids, even. When I deconverted over 9 years ago, it was a quick process... I just suddenly realized that nobody actually believed Genesis 3. (It says a plain, ordinary snake tempted Eve. There's nothing about Satan there. Nobody would believe that if they realized that's what it said!) Anyway, the impact on you has certainly been huge. I hope your husband is dealing with it okay and has been able to find work. I say my own impact hasn't been huge, yet I'm still mostly in the closet. My wife knows, one of my sons knows, but the other son (a minister) and I have a don't ask don't tell relationship. This pandemic has been a wonderful thing for me, personally. Most churches aren't having an evening service any more, and my wife doesn't feel well most mornings, so I rarely have to go. But, like you, church was my entire social life. I don't actually miss that. Zoom meetings at work are all of the socializing I need! (Alas, I'll have to go back to the office, soon.) Anyway, welcome aboard! If there's one true verse in the Bible, it's that the truth will make you free. Just so happens that the truth is that the Bible isn't true.
  3. Lerk

    Proof

    I gotta say I don't. I never had that problem. While I believed in Heaven and Hell, it was more of mental assent -- I believed the Bible and the NT talks about those places and people going to one or the other, so I thought it was true, but I never actually pictured myself in either place. I wasn't excited about Heaven, never thought about seeing my grandparents again or anything like that, and I never imagined how awful it might be to wind up in Hell. Maybe I don't have a very good imagination. (I sometimes say that even the world around me doesn't seem that vividly real!) I hope you'll find a way to get over it. That must be awful. I know that there are a lot of people who go through that.
  4. Lerk

    Proof

    When I first realized that what the Bible says and what believers believe are two very different things, I started to try to figure out what was real. (Briefly, I realized one Sunday morning in church that Genesis 3, the story of the serpent and Eve, doesn't involve the character "Satan" at all. It's just a snake! And I looked around and realized that absolutely nobody there that morning believed that an ordinary snake tempted Eve because snakes are just sneaky and no other animal could or would do such a thing, yet that's exactly what the Bible says! "The serpent was more subtle than the beasts of the field.") So my next thought was that "liberal Christianity" might have it right. Maybe a lot of the Old Testament is just myths and legends, but they help us understand this god. But the more I read, the more I realized that the whole thing was just speculation, and that the speculation about what a god or gods were like changed a lot from beginning to end. At the beginning, there's a "Most High God" with sons, and Jehovah is one of those sons. So if it's myths and legends at the beginning, why would I think that it became real by the time you get to the stories about Jesus? And considering how inconsistent the whole thing is, to me that's actually convincing proof that the god called Jehovah is just the product of ancient people's imagination. Proof that it's all speculation is the same as proof that it isn't real. I have to admit that I didn't thoroughly investigate any other religions. Judaism and Islam are obviously out because they believe in the same god. Hinduism teaches the Trinity on steroids, that there are many, many gods but that they're all manifestations of the Brahman (if I understand correctly), which is really just the highest universal principle. It really just seems like a bunch of "thoughty" words that don't actually have any meaning. Not that there's no good to be found in Hinduism (I'm sure there is, as well as bad), but the supernatural stuff just seems made up. We humans have vivid imaginations, and we have language, allowing us to develop ideas to the extreme. So, although I would say it's not impossible that there are such things as minds without bodies (which gods would necessarily have to be), I think what we know about the various religions constitutes proof that they aren't real. Lacking any other evidence for minds existing outside of brains, I'm going to have to come down on the side of hard atheism. If there are any such things as gods, they clearly don't have any interaction with us, nor do they care to. That's an agnostic thing to say, but it's so completely doubtful that I'm still calling myself an atheist.
  5. You don't say whether you've told your wife you don't believe it anymore. I hope so! If she doesn't really believe but is hoping you'll convince her, you might want her to know that you both are actually on the same page. As far as the community, would it be that hard for you and your wife to just "drift away" without formally declaring that you don't the mythology? That's tough in the Church of Christ (where I'm still a member) because the elders keep tabs on people, but I don't know about the Baptist church. If it's a big church, it seems possible that no one would notice. If it weren't for my wife, I'd just withdraw my membership and say I hadn't quite decided where to go yet. But if it wouldn't be noticed, I'd just quit showing up. (We have quit showing up since Covid, actually, since the church we are members of doesn't require masks. We've been visiting a place that requires them.)
  6. That's the biggest sin the CoC recognizes!
  7. Ah, yes, the "Harmony of the Gospels" study, where you skip around ostensibly to get the stories in the right order, but really you're skipping over the contradictions.
  8. When I was a believer I used to say that if the US were ever to switch to the international standard (Monday is the ISO first day of the week) I'd have to start going to church on Monday. Christians don't worship on the Sabbath, they worship on "the Lord's Day", the first day of the week, the day that Jesus rose from the grave. That was my version of the mythology, anyway.
  9. I actually go with her, yet every once in a while she can't seem to help expressing her dismay that I'm a non-believer. We had a nice little argument the other night. I will not bring it up, but if she's going to go on the offensive I'm going to 1) defend myself and 2) turn it around on her. She stated that nearly everyone in the world believes in gods and accused me and our atheist son of thinking we're smarter than the majority. I asked, then, whether she thought she was smarter than the people who believed in the "wrong" gods or in people like me who didn't think there were any such things as gods. The fact that I don't find her arguments convincing doesn't make me arrogant. I finished by telling her I didn't think she really believed it, either. This started when she asked me, yet again, why she personally had so many more physical problems than other people. Apparently, I was supposed to answer "I'm sorry, honey. It really isn't fair." I've answered that way a million times, but in the last few years I've been more likely to say more simply that there's no good answer. She's asking me for an answer! If she just wants sympathy, she shouldn't ask "why." But she has doubts -- big ones. When she's trying to convince me she'll talk about "our perfect grandchildren". Yes, they're healthy, but what about the grandchild of one of the elders of our church, a 3 year old who is dying of a cancer they've been fighting for more than half of his life, and whose parents are doing everything they can to keep him alive just one more day? Oh, the answer of course is the Garden of Eden. So I ask how that worked... did the god deliberately take his perfect creation and force things to go wrong with it? Or is Satan a god, that was able to screw up our DNA and cause bacteria and viruses to attack us? No answer, of course. Then it turned to "what if" (our preacher son) asks me whether I believe or not. (He and I have a don't-ask-don't-tell relationship of sorts.) I told her I didn't think he'd ask because he doesn't want to know, but that I wouldn't lie to him. Her biggest fear, greater than any other fear, is that he'll cut us out of his life. But he hasn't cut his brother out, even though he knows perfectly well he's an atheist. As florduh told me earlier, it's time to just tell him and not have to deal with this shit anymore.
  10. I'm not so sure. Seems like not worrying about what "the other kids" (i.e. the people in your life) think might be a sign of a sociopath. I did get good at saying "no" when I was still a believer. "No, I don't teach Bible class." Being halfway in and halfway out of the closet has allowed me to completely quit participating in the assembly. Sorry (not sorry), I'm not leading singing. My wife is embarrassed just anticipating that someone may ask her why I don't participate, because that's the way we've lived our lives. How do I decide what to do in my life? Well, what would people expect of me? There's my answer! I had no clue that there was any other way to decide, like asking what I myself preferred. But I think there is a balance to be had. We have to get along in society, we have to do our part. The problem here is that this is a society and culture that I really want nothing to do with. I just happen to have been born into it. So, I do care what other people think to some extent, but not as much as i used to. It's true that I wasn't taught anything about balance, so I'm really having to work that out. I may not live long enough to really get it figured out.
  11. We had that discussion yesterday. The thing I really hate (and that I explained to her) is going by myself. As long as we're in the same denomination (that calls itself non-denominational) we have connections that might result in unwanted feedback if I were to just drop out. Social/societal pressure stinks. I really hate going into a crowded church building. (Or crowded any other kind of place, for that matter.) For a number of years after the kids left I actually didn't mind too much going to church because I would just sit in an inconspicuous spot and read books on my phone. But then the place we were members at got really crowded. So... who am I concerned about? I have one son who is an atheist and another who is a CoC preacher. They had a rough spell in their relationship but seem to be okay now. But I had some tentative conversations with preacher-son about 4 years ago and wound up with a don't-ask-don't-tell status. The only other concern I have is my wife's sister, and not for my sake, but just because it freaks my wife out thinking about it. My wife is afraid she won't be able to make friends at a new church so she's reluctant to leave the current one. But she seldom does anything with these people anyway, so I don't see that it'll make any difference in her life. There's no reason she couldn't make friends at a new church, anyway, she just has zero self-confidence and tons of fear. If I were to withdraw my membership and she were to stay, it'd embarrass her like crazy. But maybe she'd get sympathy and a bit of attention for awhile, rather than feeling lonely!
  12. It's really ironic. A lot of Churches of Christ started doing some sort of online thing. Some would have just a few people go down to the building, and they'd go through all of the motions with some sort of streaming. People would buy their own matzoh bread and grape juice and do the Lord's Supper at the appropriate time, and send in their contribution via PayPal. My wife has various health issues, and so she misses most Sunday mornings, but will often make it on Sunday night. (In the CoC you have two Sunday services, with the Lord's Supper served in the evening for anyone who couldn't be there in the morning.) But a lot of Sundays she didn't make either service. Yet with this streaming, she's wanted to do church almost every Sunday since the lockdown! If she isn't up early enough to watch "our" church, she watches the West Coast church where our son preaches, at 1:00 PM in our time zone. The church we go to started back in-person + streaming a couple of months ago. They tell people who have health issues not to go. The people doing in-person are not wearing masks and there are far too many people there to maintain and sort of spacing. A couple of weeks ago they finally reserved some space for people who don't want to be near the non-mask wearing libertarians, and they called people and encouraged them to go back. They did manage to get the attendance up some. But we've gone now, 3 of the last 4 weeks. to a church where they have every other row blocked off and they're requiring masks. She hadn't made it 3 out of 4 Sundays in a row in several years, but now she's really trying to do it. I was really hoping we'd just withdraw our membership from that other church and never get around to going anywhere else on a regular basis. No such luck. *sigh*
  13. I take it you're not necessarily around your family a lot, but in communication enough that you hear the stuff all of the time. But you're not going to church any more? I don't really know about your family, but I think I'd want to make sure my child knew I didn't believe in gods and such just so when they inevitably start to question the religion they know they have nothing to fear. And you don't want them to just think you're a backslider, but actually a non-believer. (My kids were grown and gone before I realized that Christianity was BS, so I don't actually have experience in this. But when my older son tentatively expressed doubts a few years ago (he had already deconverted, but was testing the waters) I made sure to tell him the truth. Younger son and I have a more complicated don't-ask-don't-tell relationship, unfortunately. Anyway, what to do about family? I don't think you can expect them to quit talking about their god in family messages, since it's always been their way of life. They don't seem to be pointing it directly at you, since they don't even know you're a non-believer. Again, I have no direct experience with it, but I think I'd let it go, even though it annoys me. My wife knows I'm an atheist but I don't get upset when she talks about her god. I do get annoyed when she gets a little pushy about it and I'll respond sometimes, depending upon how up I am for an argument. But if these are people you rarely see in person? My thought is to just try to learn to just ignore it. It's just people and their beliefs.
  14. I call that my “wait... what?” moment.
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